Photos: Bronco graduates celebrate growth, transformation at 123rd commencement ceremony

BHS seniors and junior leader, from left to right, Samantha Foster, Greta Ajoyan, Jenna Corrao, Brooke Allen, junior Emily Cook. NRI NOW photo by Dick Martin

BURRILLVILLE – Burrillville High School’s 123rd commencement went off without a hitch in a tightly packed, somewhat warm Levy Rink, as parents, friends and relatives used programs to fan themselves while waiting for loved ones to receive their diplomas.

Supt. Michael Sollitto welcomed those in attendance, reminding graduates to “take a moment to reflect on your journey.”

“From the first day of kindergarten to this final step in high school, you’ve grown, learned and transformed,” he said. “This transformation didn’t happen overnight. It is the result of your hard work, resilience and the unwavering support of your families, teachers, and friends.”

The Burrillville community, he added, has watched them grow both in the classroom and on the athletic fields, as well as in the community. He encouraged graduates to take time to discover their path moving forward and to embrace every opportunity to learn and grow.

“Graduates, you are the future leaders, innovators, and change-makers,” said Sollitto. “The world needs your talents, your perspectives, and your passion. As you go out into the world, carry with you the values of hard work, integrity, compassion, and a sense of responsibility to others. These values will guide you in making a positive impact wherever you go.”

Principal Michael Lazzareschi echoed those sentiments.

“You have worked hard, and you have earned this moment,” he said. “You have overcome obstacles and faced challenges, and you have made us all proud. We know as you continue the next steps in your life, you will continue to make us proud in the years to come.”

BHS teacher and graduation coordinator Linda Therien pins a corsage on senior Ben Young. NRI NOW photo by Dick Martin

Lazzareschi went on to thank parents, as well as faculty and staff for their part in helping the graduates to achieve their goals.

“To the faculty and staff, I want to say thank you,” he said. “Thank you for your passion, your dedication, and your hard work. You have inspired our graduates. You have challenged them and helped them grow. You have made a difference in their lives, and we are grateful for your service.”

Valedictorian Emily Martin added to that praise, thanking parents, guardians, teachers and staff who have acted as mentors.

“Your guidance has been crucial in our growth throughout all our schooling, and your influence has aided in creating the strong individuals that sit in front of you today,” she said.

Sammy Barber, left, and Olivia Taylor created special designs for their caps. NRI NOW photo by Dick Martin

Writing the speech, she said, was far from easy, and may have been the most difficult speech she has had to write so far. She recalled starting the 2020 school year with virtual learning, not only adjusting to a new school but to a new way of learning.

“Despite the rocky start to our high school careers, I am happy to say that we still managed to make connections and friendships that many of us will look fondly upon in years to come,” she said.

Growth has taken place in a number of ways during the last four years, added Martin.

Dominick Iaciofano is one of the first graduates to receive his diploma from principal Michael Lazzareschi. NRI NOW photo by Dick Martin

“I look back on the past four years, and I can clearly see how far we have come,” said Martin. “We have all grown as individuals, from awkward middle schoolers to proud young adults, who I know will make this world a better place.  No matter what we decide to do in life, I hope we all remember to be ourselves, to work hard, and to be kind to others.  I know that we will all be successful and take on whatever challenges may face us.”

That growth includes more than academics, Martin said.

“We have met all the academic requirements, but most importantly, we have learned what it means to be good people,” she added. “At the end of the day what truly matters is our character and the kindness that we put out into the world. Despite this being the end of a chapter of our lives, it is also the beginning of a new chapter as we all go out into the world and prepare ourselves for adulthood.”

Salutatorian Kaitlyn Fleming reflected on the class’s journey, finally arriving at the “last first day of school.”

“Burrillville High School holds reminders of who we once were,” she said. “During our time at Burrillville, we have faced a lot of uncertainty.”

Instead of looking backward, she added, it is time to move forward.

Leading the recessional are Kyle DellaBarba, right, and Nolan Serafin. NRI NOW photo by Dick Martin

“The person you are today will only be a memory of who we were,” said Fleming.

Now graduates will have the opportunity to create new versions of themselves and continue to grow and achieve, she added.

Class poet Kirstyn Smith reflected on the class’s last four years at BHS in her poem “The Colors Blue and White”:

In the halls where we once walked,

Time flew by and teachers talked.

With every test and milestone,

Together we have all grown,

Blue and white was always proudly shown.

 From kiddish dreams to senior heights,

We faced the challenges every day and night.

With courage strong and spirits bright,

We spread our wings, ready for flight.

Through exams and late-night study grinds,

We conquered fears and now it unwinds.

In classrooms filled with knowledge’s gleam,

We found our passion, our lifelong dream.

Now as we stand on tis threshold’s brink,

Reflecting on the path we tread in sync.

With diplomas in hand and futures unknown,

We step forward to claim our own throne.

So here’s to the class of twenty twenty-four,

Class poet Kirstyn Smith reads her poem “The Colors Blue and White,” as Burrillville School Committee Chairwoman Silvia St. Pierre looks on. NRI NOW photo by Dick Martin

Forever bound by the bonds we bore.

 As we part ways, let memories soar,

Burrillville Broncos, forever we’ll be,

 For within hearts, pride will be the key.

Olivia Fullam and Reese Morin received Bronco Awards for their dedication and service both to Burrillville High and the community during their four years. Both students, said Lazzareschi, have made contributions to the community. Morin was a Burrillville High student liaison to the RI Secretary of State.  She and Fullam successfully created and ran a drive to get seniors registered as voters, registering over 80 students as a result of their efforts. They also created a student action group to allow students to have a voice in decisions at the high shool, among other contributions and achievements during the course of their four years.

Fullam, who is class president, accomplished a tremendous amount for both school and community, as well, said Lazzareschi. He praised her for her positive attitude and hard work. She networked through DECA with students across the country to provide positive solutions to a variety of problems.

Nolan Baynes, right, and Salutatorian Kaitlyn Fleming show off their lighted bouquets. NRI NOW photo by Dick Martin

“She exemplifies what it means to be a Bronco,” he added.

Other speakers included Don Fox from the Burrillville Town Council and Silvia St. Pierre, Burrillville School Committee Chair. Fox recalled his own life growing up and how his experiences led to where he is today, urging graduates to set goals and achieve them, but be ready for changes along the way. St. Pierre congratulated the graduates on their achievements.

Of the 156 graduates, 40% will attend four year colleges, 24% will attend two year colleges, three percent will attend technical schools, five percent trade schools, two percent military, 18% employment and seven percent other.

Valedictorian Emily Martin. NRI NOW photo by Dick Martin
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  1. I can’t understand why they have graduation in a building with no ventilation or airflow. It made what was to be a joyous occasion into one where many fled from the oppressive heat or just sat trying to endure. Surely the town can do better than this.

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